Meditations for Men Who Do Too Much
By letting go, it all gets done; The world is won by those who let it go!
the Tao te Ching
That is what so much of our compulsion is about; it is not "natural" for men in this age, in this society, to "let go." We hold on to old models of success, and sometimes to disastrous ways of seeing things to fruition. How often have we clung to what we thought was the life raft of sanity, of our work, of our need to complete a task, for the sake of the task, not for what it brings us.
It will be important for me to keep my real goals in perspective today. I will need to be mindful of what makes me and those I love happy, not just what keeps me occupied.
Damn the great executives, the men of measured merriment, damn the men with careful smiles....
In our lives, beginning in childhood, we learn to measure everything. Quantify happiness, measure accomplishment, and meter work, preferably billing by the hour. I do not know if it is strictly a male trait to measure work and dole out pleasure, but now I do know that all men I once wanted to emulate were men who had careful smiles, and used them as techniques rather than honest and spontaneous reactions to pleasure.
I want to begin to see myself as a man who doesn't excuse pleasure, but one who seeks it out and manages to bring it to my work.
Next week there can't be any crisis. My schedule is already full.
Have you ever felt this way? There was a time, and it wasn't very long ago, that I would lookat my schedule, a week in advance, and revel in the fact that there were few formal meetings set. As the days went by, I would always add more meetings until the weekend prior to the week ahead left me with dread because I had so overbooked myself -- and all with the very best of intentions. Always taking on too much, I thereby created crisis.
Today I will listen to my heartbeat -- literally. And I will let that cadence set the tone for the pace of my work.
One's action ought to come out of an achieved stillness; not to be a mere rushing on.
D. H. Lawrence
A flurry of activity usually looks like work; it most often announces that a great deal is being dealt with, a genius at work, a man who knows how to stir things up to get things done. It is so terribly difficult to be quiet. Especially if you're a man who has been taught that work is noisy, physically and emotionally demanding, thankless, and of course, endless.
So much clarity of thought comes from solitude, from being undisturbed, from closing doors gently and quietly. Once I heard the voice of one of my children very clearly, after he had been asleep for a long time. I heard his voice so clearly because I allowed myself to hear it.
I need to be quiet, to listen, to stop. I will accomplish an inner harmony if l do not drown out the notes that come from within.
I think in every country that there is at least one executive who is scared of going crazy.
I feel so worn down from trying so hard. I think so many men like me are exhausted from being frantic. We attempt to work on our overcommitment, our overwork, but even that takes a new kind of toll on us. Even the effort to become "sane" and to give ourselves balance can leave us drained; nearly as drained as the old obsessive work-'til-you-drop routine.
This problem of fear, of perhaps "going crazy," is not limited to my socioeconomic peer group. It is universal; it is worldwide; it is pervasive, persuasive, and about as frightening as anything any man can think of.
Today I will begin to understand how far-reaching my work anxiety is. I may not beat the anxiety today, but I will begin to understand how many of my peers also suffer from it.
My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.
I wonder how often I've known only the moment of being awake, and the minute prior to drifting off at night, to be the only "absolutes" in my day. If I were spontaneous, enjoying chance, and not mindful of my need for "business," I would fill my head with an orderly and forceful view of the tasks that are before me each day.
More often than not, my days are a jumble of activity, often mindless "business' -- predominantly a flurry of things half done, rarely fully accomplished. I'd really rather measure my days by virtue of the richness and variety they offer, not by how quickly they pass.
Today I will pause a number of times, not to look at the clock but to take a short walk or stare out the window and think about how I can be more satisfied.
The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.
How do we learn to keep alive those things that are important to us, those things that need to survive a busy day, a schedule crammed with things to do, endless meetings, useless activities? How often do we learn the difference between what is "important" and what can be dismissed? And what part of us dies when we make the decision to be consumed with activity rather than thought, or with "getting there" just so we could say we were there. Men have been taught that they must always move; frenetic activity is the physical evidence of men who do too much.
I want to be aware today of what I have inside that is important. I will care less for what I "produce" and attach less importance to the evidence of being a good or prosperous man.
Always do one thing less than you think you can do.
Like most men, my eyes are bigger than my appetite. I often give myself a very large menu of things to do, and every morning I'm eager to get to all of it. Bernard Baruch's thought speaks to measuring out our tasks so that we do not become enslaved by them. He suggests that we do less, because, as we've been told over and over, very often less is more. Accomplishing task after task after task is not in anyone's best interest. Think about being the seventh or twelfth patient on a surgeon's list of "things to do today," and suddenly you get the picture. Unless it's an emergency, I'll wait my turn.
Today I will attempt to finish something I've already started. I will remember that seeing something through to its completion can be more satisfying than taking on something new.
Wisdom is knowing when you can't be wise.
Change. Move. Alter. Perfect. Rearrange. Keep moving. So many of us put a lid on our wisdom by rarely, if ever, taking the time to reflect on our strengths. It takes a new method of thought and of inner patience to begin to be straight with ourselves about what we can and cannot do. When is it better for me not to be involved, not to make a decision, not to take a stand? I cannot always come up with an answer. Often I cannot deliver a question. Often I will be better off if I do neither.
Today I will be mindful of my limitations, and take comfort in the fact that I do not know everything, never will, and will not have to take responsibility for knowledge I do not have.
Bring over one of your old Motown records, put the speakers in the window; we'll go up on the roof and listen to the Miracles echo in the alley down below
Remember those old songs, the ones we listened to and